The strategic issue of water resources

Nouakchott,  28/10/2021
In a desert country like ours where water stress is a constant factor with which we must constantly deal, in a society where women and children, particularly in rural and peri-urban areas, spend most of their time obtaining supplies in water over long distances, thus affecting the productive activities of the first and dropping out of school the second, the problem of access to water is simply a question of life, even, very often, of survival.

That’s why it is, today, one of the major national concerns given the series of issues facing the sector: scarcity, the randomness of rains, the vulnerability of water resources, the disparity in their spatial distribution, deterioration of their quality, lack of equity in access to water resources between zones, wilayas, and localities, in addition to the growing needs of different socioeconomic activities.

Insufficient sanitation services and lack of access to drinking water have long impacted public health, weighed on the lives of citizens, and hampered the country's development.

By taking the full measure of the vital dimension of access to water and sanitation services, as well as their impacts on the health and well-being of citizens, their availability, proximity, and quality have been preeminent in the program of the President of the Republic.

Thus, since the implementation of this program, the achievements and rehabilitations of urban, rural, and pastoral hydraulic works and hygiene and sanitation infrastructures have followed one another nationally at an accelerated pace.

The record of achievements in the field of water and sanitation is indicative of the progress made over the past two years. It would be tedious to mention, here, all the projects executed or in progress in this field, however, we cannot ignore those which are structuring, and which cover large densely populated areas.

In this respect, it is important to note the phases of the Dhar project, the securing and extension of the facilities of the Aftout Essahli, the water supply of hundreds of localities where water shortage was the daily lot of their inhabitants, the reinforcement of the supply of numerous installations, and the start-up of the water and sanitation sector project which will ultimately benefit nearly a quarter of the country's population. In addition, major water retention and village and pastoral hydraulic works have been completed while many others are underway.

The goal of universal and equitable access to drinking water, hygiene, and sanitation by 2030, particularly for vulnerable populations, is getting closer every day and the remarkable increase in reference rates between 2018 and 2021, by almost 10%, shows that this sixth goal of the SDGs is within reach if the achievements continue at the same pace.

In a world where water is at the heart of multiple geopolitical issues - strategists agree that the greatest number of conflicts in this century will have water as their origin - and in a country where water is a scarce and poorly distributed commodity, water resources need to be rationalized.

Therefore, it is important to focus more on the preventive protection of underground water resources, to intensify the activities of prospecting, collection, and distribution of water, to control the retention and exploitation of water from the surface, to make greater use of desalination techniques, and to anchor resource rationalization practices.

To the current dynamic of decentralization of intervention structures in the Water and Sanitation sector, the application of the principle of subsidiarity at the level of certain segments of the sector must be added so that the local authorities, which have the privilege of proximity, be able to intervene, with the local populations, to solve water management problems.

Horizons
Last modification : 04/11/2021 10:20:06